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In moments of acute intoxication or severe withdrawal, chronic alcoholics may start to hear, see, or feel things that aren’t really there. These alcohol hallucinations can cause excessive anxiety and may appear with other symptoms like insomnia, paranoia, and dizziness.

Any time someone’s perception of reality warps, they are at a higher risk of accidentally harming themself or others. For this reason, it is important to treat alcohol hallucinations as a serious side effect of alcohol misuse. If you are someone who experiences alcohol-related psychosis, it may be time to seek help from medical professionals.

Types of Alcohol Hallucinations

Alcohol Hallucinations

Hallucinations are defined as the sensation of stimuli that aren’t actually there. Almost any sense can be affected, though in the case of alcohol hallucinations, three types of false perceptions occur more often than any other.

Auditory Hallucinations

The most frequently observed type of alcohol hallucinations is auditory in nature. People who experience auditory hallucinations may report hearing voices, doors opening and closing, music, footsteps, or banging. When someone hears voices, they may whisper or shout, and they are often authoritative or critical of the person hearing them.

Visual Hallucinations

Visual hallucinations are another common type of alcohol hallucinations. These include seeing vague, abstract shapes, colors, and lights, as well as stretched or distorted objects. Visual alcohol hallucinations are rarely intense enough to depict whole fantastical scenes, though in some cases, it is possible for them to become quite vivid.

Tactile Hallucinations

The third most common type of alcohol hallucinations involves the sense of touch. Tactile hallucinations make people believe that something is touching them. This may include thinking that ants are under their skin, or take the more general form of itchy, burning, or numb skin.

Causes of Alcohol Hallucinations

Most alcohol hallucinations occur as a result of one of two occasions: heavy alcohol consumption or the abrupt cessation of drinking. In other words, hallucinations can either be a sign of acute intoxication or a severe withdrawal symptom.

Alcohol-induced psychotic disorder, otherwise known as alcoholic hallucinosis, is a complication that can develop from chronic alcohol abuse. It affects people very sparingly, with current estimates suggesting it occurs in less than five percent of people with alcohol use disorder.

Other symptoms of alcohol-induced psychosis include:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability or mood swings

Chemically, alcohol hallucinations happen because of how alcohol affects the brain. When people drink alcohol, it temporarily changes how their brain processes neurotransmitters like dopamine.

Increased dopamine activity leads to increased sensitivity to external stimuli. When someone’s sensitivity reaches a point called hyperarousal, they may start to see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there. Alcohol hallucinations like these can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days after heavy alcohol consumption.

Similarly, brain activity changes drastically when someone stops drinking, particularly if they already have a history of chronic alcohol misuse. Abrupt changes in the brain can also trigger alcohol hallucinations as the body scrambles to readjust to the absence of alcohol.

Treatment for Alcohol Hallucinations

In many cases, the best long-term treatment for alcohol hallucinations involves the cessation of drinking in general. However, when someone lives with alcohol use disorder, it is often easier said than done to stop drinking.

To aid in the process, Port St. Lucie Hospital offers an assortment of alcohol addiction treatment programs. Each type of program benefits individuals for a different reason. While some people will participate in multiple programs, others may only need the support of one.

The degree of help someone needs depends on factors such as the length and severity of their addiction, their home environment, and the amount of time they can allocate to treatment. After taking these factors into account, we connect our patients with the best treatment options for their needs.

Medical Alcohol Detox

Medical Alcohol Detox

Relieving someone of their alcohol hallucinations begins by helping them stop drinking. This begins with a process called detox, during which someone’s body can re-learn how to function without alcohol.

Most medical professionals advise against quitting “cold turkey” at home. Without the proper support in place, the withdrawal symptoms associated with detox can cause problems. The most common withdrawal symptoms are relatively minor, but others are more difficult to manage alone.

For example, during detox, there is a small chance that someone will experience more alcohol hallucinations. In addition to alcohol-induced psychosis, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may also include seizures and respiratory failure.

Thankfully, Port St. Lucie Hospital offers a treatment program dedicated to making detox as safe and comfortable for patients as possible. Our medical detox connects individuals with a team of licensed doctors and addiction experts. They work tirelessly to monitor the prevalence of withdrawal symptoms and lessen their overall impact.

Medical support helps to eliminate the potential risks of detox and withdrawal. Even though in rare cases, someone may experience additional alcohol hallucinations during detox, it is an important step in ensuring they don’t happen again in the future.

Alcohol Rehab Programs

After a successful detox, individuals should no longer experience alcohol hallucinations. However, to increase their chances of remaining sober in the long term, some people may opt to pursue further treatment. This is especially helpful for those with co-occurring mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.

In fact, Port St. Lucie Hospital specializes in the treatment of such co-occurring disorders. We offer a thorough dual diagnosis program, in which patients receive dedicated treatment for both their addictions and other mental illnesses.

Overcoming alcohol hallucinations is only one of the first steps in our comprehensive treatment plans. We care about more than how we can help our patients in the short term. We also want to set them up for future success by teaching vital life coping skills.

To accomplish this, the addiction treatment programs available at Port St. Lucie Hospital utilize a variety of evidence-based treatment options, including:

Attending one of our treatment programs makes it more likely that someone will stay sober. Long-term sobriety offers many physical, social, and mental benefits, including the absence of alcohol hallucinations. Anyone can achieve it; they just need the right guidance.

Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol hallucinations are only one potential side effect of chronic alcohol abuse. In order to recover from addiction as a whole, you may need professional support. To that end, we at Port St. Lucie Hospital are ready to help you develop a personalized addiction treatment plan.

Port St. Lucie Hospital is a mental health and addiction treatment center that helps individuals with a wide range of behavioral health concerns, including alcohol and drug addiction, depression, and anxiety. We promote recovery through a calm environment and positive, patient-focused treatment modalities.

Contact Us Today

If you have more questions about how to stop having alcohol hallucinations, or if you’re worried about encountering them during detox, reach out to us today. You can contact an admissions specialist by calling 772-408-5871 or submitting a confidential contact form online.

We will happily answer any concerns you have and connect you with the right resources to get help. If you want to stop drinking alcohol safely, you can do so through our medical detox program. If you need additional support afterward to pursue long-term sobriety, we can help with that as well. With our support, anyone can regain control of their life.

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